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White Labs Tasting - Maibock, Barleywine and Belgian Strong

Posted by zVulture on 5/05/2016 at 11:05:15 PM


Making up a bit for last week and making sure to hit these more limited released beers, I am covering some of the heavier hitters as these are all high ABV. Tack on the drinking at the company social before forgive any more creative wording as I go on in this review.


WLP833 German Bock Lager Yeast

White Labs Description - From the Alps of southern Bavaria, this yeast produces a beer that is well balanced between malt and hop character. The excellent malt profile makes it well suited for Bocks, Doppelbocks, and Oktoberfest style beers. Very versatile lager yeast, it is so well balanced that it has gained tremendous popularity for use in Classic American style Pilsners. Also good for Helles style lager beer.
Aroma: A little bit of sweet maltiness tied with some pear-like ester.
Taste: The aroma seems to follow along with the taste, I get the expected maltiness, sweet and thicker finish to this beer. There is that bit of esters that slips right into a little bitter harshness that adds almost a little too much bite to the beer, at least for me.
Personal Ideas: I could see this being smoothed out a little more with aging, using some oak (no bourbon/etc, just plain), or some more malt complexity to really showcase the yeast at this high ABV.

WLP920 Old Bavarian Lager Yeast

White Labs Description - From Southern Germany, this yeast finishes malty with a slight ester profile. Use in beers such as Oktoberfest, Bock, and Dark Lagers.
Aroma: Getting a fleeting yet strong aroma from a blend of honey and honeydew. A sniffer glass would make this far clearer than the tasting glass.
Taste: The almost mead-like of this beer really shows through right out of the gate. It's sweeter with a bit of a thick mouthfeel. The fruity esters really sit there to compliment it yet overall everything comes across quite thick while not overly strong. The flavors really stay and really force a slow drinking of the beer to not get overwhelmed.
Personal Ideas: White the german bock yeast was all toward the malt, this one seemed to clean that profile up and add quite a unique honey aspect. How thick the flavor and mouthfeel was, I almost want to use this for a braggot with possibly use of aroma strong fruit or spice to really compliment the fleeting aroma I was getting.


WLP001 California Ale Yeast

White Labs Description - This yeast is famous for its clean flavors, balance and ability to be used in almost any style ale. It accentuates the hop flavors and is extremely versatile.
Aroma: Dry lightly malty esters almost reminiscent of...scented dish soap in not a bad way.
Taste: Whatever light esters were there are buried under the heavy wool blanket of the malt and bitterness. That old guest blanket that has that bit of huskiness from unknown age and weight to press you down into slumber on a cold night. The material just a bit abrasive yet familiar and comforting despite itself...yeah something like that.
Personal Ideas: 001 is very common to use for a lot of beers. I honestly try to avoid this yeast just because its just...average. If your working on your recipes, process or not sure what to use this is always a good standard to use. But I often find something else always has that edge over it in what I ask out of a beer. Homebrewers have the advantage of variance unlike pro places that need to save money re-using the same yeasts. One advantage of this yeast is to get the dry safeale US-05 can be a bit easier stored and used in a pinch (or the whole packet hahaha...yeah completely sober I swear)

WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast

White Labs Description - Clean, highly flocculent, and highly attenuative yeast. This yeast is similar to WLP002 in flavor profile, but is 10% more attenuative. This eliminates the residual sweetness, and makes the yeast well suited for high gravity ales. It is also reaches terminal gravity quickly. 80% attenuation will be reached even with 10% ABV beers.
Aroma: That light soapiness is there on this beer as well that makes me think they used some hops or process that added this in. Otherwise there is the very light prune esters that might be hiding beneath that.
Taste: Far dryer of the two which is attributed to the yeast name yet still quite a heavy maltiness too it. The dryness actually seems to clean it up and make it a bit softer at this high ABV than the 001 could do. Almost that couch pillow that accompanies the blanket, just a bit of softness to lay your head down on yet unable to escape that old musk as it were. I prefer this out of the two though if I were to drink any volume!
Personal Ideas: This is the yeast we used in the barrel aging project and I can see where it comes in quite far better use there. The beer is not as strong and cloying as the 001 so it leaves just enough room to add some complexity to the beer. A bit of sweetness and vanilla from some bourbon barrel/oak would make this quite an enjoyable beer. Generally these malt bombs are nice for a taster but always seem to bore me into not wanting more after. Give it some flavor, complexity or something special and you will have me back.

Belgian Strong

WLP500 Monastery Ale Yeast

White Labs Description - From a Belgian monastery where monks traditionally made beer, this yeast produces the distinctive fruitiness and plum characteristics. Excellent yeast for high gravity beers, Belgian ales, dubbels and trippels.
Aroma: I am getting quite a bit of rich bannana esters off this, not the fresh stuff but the sweet browned bananas used for making bread or cooking with. That might come with the hint of plastic that I attribute to belgian beers yet quite well matched together.
Taste: This seems to follow along with the aroma, I would almost be surprised there was no banana in this beer. There is just the light amount of phenol that seems to be a little more on the spicy side.
Personal Ideas: This is similar to my blend of WLP300 + WLP510 but with less complexity and a bit more cloying mouthfeel. I think the amount of ABV in this beer contributes to that though and I might experiment with making a dunkelweizen with just this yeast instead. I wouldn't say this is dry or smooth enough to handle the bigger mash bill and could see it just a bit lower. This being used with an actual banana wine would actually be quite amazing I think though maybe layering that specific flavor on a bit thick.

WLP545 Belgian Strong Ale Yeast

White Labs Description - From the Ardennes region of Belgium, this classic yeast strain produces moderate levels of ester and spicy phenolic character. Typically results in a dry, but balanced finish. This yeast is well suited for Belgian dark strongs, Abbey Ales, and Christmas beers.
Aroma: The far more traditional aroma I attribute to belgian beers. That light bit of plasticity with some more harsh chemical aroma.
Taste: As you expect I am not the biggest fan of traditional belgian beers. This one is no exception as I go through the far too acrid chemical taste that reminds me too closely of watered down and fermented vomit. This seems to be far more personal a taste though and others do enjoy this more traditional belgian flavor.
Personal Ideas: I would rather avoid this yeast personally but if there was a way to diminish the off-flavors (or what I consider off), add a bit of sweetness from belgian candi syrup, and possibly age it in some oak for a while I could see this all coming out. Admittedly I tasted such of a traditional abbey ale that got brought in with similar characteristics but much better delivery. That might also be a slightly different but related yeast though.

Steven, otherwise known as zVulture on reddit or in games, is a homebrewer with two years and counting under the belt. Ambitious enough to think he can work his way up to opening his own brewery but knows he has a lot to learn. Beyond having fun doing experimental homebrewing to such an end, he enjoys learning and using old techniques, useful or not, to make beer. "[We] are only concerned with giving homebrewers accurate information based on our own experience in the hope that they will find the information useful and employ it to make their own homebrewing hobby more fun and rewarding. Because that’s what it’s all about– fun. If you’re stressing over homebrewing, you’re doing something wrong." - Denny Conn

Tags for this post: White Labs, Yeast, Belgian Strong, Barleywine, Maibock

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